The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper

Temple of the crystal timekeeper ingramspark cover (1)Fiona Ingram’s latest book in the middle grade series, The Chronicles of the Stone, follows the intrepid adventurers to Mexico and The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. Adam, Justin, and Kim are searching now for the third stone of power, and as always, they must find the stone before the villainous Dr. Khalid can get his hands on it–and them. But there’s an added twist to this tale, a warlord who believes himself the incarnation of an Aztec god. And he’s right in the thick of this adventure!

And so in this third book, the Aztecs come into play along with the Mayans.  From the beginning, when our trio’s plane crashes into the forest, until the end and the life and death game-changing action, there’s a ton of history, religion, and culture to soak up!

Lucky Fiona Ingram to have a book release on a subject that everyone’s talking about now! I was watching a riveting public TV documentary series about Mexico and there on the screen was a cenote (a sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone) and I literally sat up from my usual half-reclining position of viewing. I’d just read all about a cenote in The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper! And next came Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god, and the temple ruins deep in the forests. Hold on! I know all about Tezcatlipoca! And then came…hey! I see what you’re doing and it’s not going to work.

Read The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper for yourself!

 

The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is available to purchase on Amazon.com. 

 

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Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers.

 

 

You can find Fiona at –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/secretofthesacredscarab/

Website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn

Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com

 

The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is a hefty read but there’s plenty of action to keep the story moving. If you want to sneak in that Social Studies unit on Mexico and the Aztecs and Mayans, especially for your reluctant guy readers, here’s the book to do it. And check out Fiona’s website for more information about the story, as well as additional resource material to download for free.

 

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What You Never Knew About Mexico (And Fiona Ingram’s Latest Book!)

Temple of the crystal timekeeper ingramspark cover (1)I’m just going to put this out there first thing: I love fiction where I get a good story wrapped in history-come-alive or science-up-close or geography-made-interesting or…really, just about anything where I learn a lot and can show off later. (Yep, I’m the person who drops comments at gatherings like, “Well, actually, the Mayans were…”) So obviously, I’m a fan of Fiona Ingram‘s middle grade series’ The Chronicles of the Stone.  These books are just packed with fascinating facts interwoven into fun adventures.

Her latest book is all about the Mayans and Aztecs and Mexico and you know what? I think I’ll let Fiona take it from here:

Before I embarked on my children’s books series The Chronicles of the Stone, I had a list of favorite topics, historical subjects I enjoyed reading about or wanted to learn more about. Once I started the adventure series, this was the perfect opportunity to both indulge my list of favorites and create exciting adventures. I knew that somehow, some way my heroes would be swept into the ancient world of the Maya and the Aztecs. I learned so much about Mexico and its history that I hope you’ll read The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper and learn as much as I did about this amazing country and its history. In the meantime, here are 10 interesting facts you possibly did not know about Mexico, whose official name is the United Mexican States.

  1. The Olmec people, Mexico’s first complex society, emerged in the southeastern part of the country around 1200 BC. They were later followed by the Maya, the Toltec, and the Aztec peoples. Mexico’s ancient societies built great cities and huge pyramids, created remarkable works of art, and even studied the stars and planets to determine when to plant crops and hold ceremonies.
  2. The Maya civilization began around 2000 BC and was noted for its hieroglyphic script—the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system.
  3. FionaIngram.jpg (1)Despite the colonial invasion by the Spanish, the Maya people did not disappear. The largest group of modern Maya is found in the Yucatán region of Mexico. They speak both “Yucatec Maya” and Spanish and are generally integrated into Mexican culture. The Maya have continued to hold on to their unique way of life.
  4. The Aztec civilization was also highly developed socially, intellectually, and artistically and lasted from 1300 until 1521. Invaders led by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés overthrew the Aztecs by force and captured their capital, Tenochtitlan, in 1521, ending Mesoamerica’s last great native civilization.
  5. The world’s oldest team sport originated in Mexico! This ancient sport, the Mesoamerican ball game, has been around for over 3,500 years and could possibly claim the title of the world’s oldest and first team sport.
  6. Who invented chocolate? The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 1900 BC. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency.
  7. Size wise, Mexico is the 11th most populated country in the world with around 127 million people. Mexico is the 14th largest country by land area. There are 31 states in Mexico as well as the capital city (Mexico City).
  8. The northern part of Mexico is a desert. Like southern Arizona, this part of Mexico has saguaro cactus, scorpions and rattlesnakes. Water is scarce here. Southern Mexico is a tropical rainforest. Most people live in the middle of the country.
  9. The Mexican flag has 3 vertical stripes on it―green, red, and white. The green stands for hope, the white for purity, and the red for the blood of the Mexican people.
  10. Mexico is known for its flora and fauna and is one of the seventeen mega-diverse countries in the world. It is also considered to be second in the world of ecosystems. Mexico houses about thirty-four unaltered ecosystems and a number of parks and monuments. It also has seventeen sanctuaries and twenty-six areas for protected flora and fauna.

Yep, I learned all that and lots more reading Fiona’s book. Come back on September 4th when I review The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. And just maybe, you’ll find out what knowledgeable Mayan gems I’ve been showing off at gatherings!

Cultural Diversity in Children’s Books with Fiona Ingram, Author of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

excalibur front cover final2-2Author Fiona Ingram is visiting the blog today, on a WOW! tour for The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

This middle grade adventure picks up the story following the first mystery she penned, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. Cousins Justin and Adam face modern as well as ancient dangers in their search to find Excalibur. And what’s up with Kim, the girl their aunt has sent along to help them?

Fortunately for us, we have Fiona to explain a little something something about Kim–and Cultural Diversity in Children’s Books:

In the early 1960s, Canadian philosopher and writer Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase ‘global village,’ in effect predicting that in time electronic media would draw the world’s populations closer. Now in 2015, over fifty years later, we need more than ever to acknowledge, accept and celebrate that there are people with different languages, cultures and religious beliefs. We should know more about the other people on our planet, but do we in essence teach our children that everyone has the same rights and deserves acceptance? I was brought up in apartheid South Africa by open-minded parents who valued people and taught us acceptance of everyone, regardless of color. Post-apartheid South Africa has a wide range of people from different race groups, languages, and cultural beliefs; and indeed there are still haves and have-nots. In my second book, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, the two young heroes—Justin and Adam—meet someone who is just like them, yet comes from a completely different background. They have well-off parents, while disadvantaged Kim is living with their Aunt Isabel so as to get a better education.

Readers might be interested to know that the character of Kim in Book 2 is based on a real child, an African child I fostered and later adopted. My young nephews (who inspired the book series) did have a bit of a cultural shock meeting someone who did not come from a well off background, and who needed another person’s help to perform better at school. In subsequent books, the heroic trio encounter different scenarios in different countries, and truly experience multiculturalism. Young readers who follow their adventures are steeped in various histories and cultures covering thousands of years in diverse locales. Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) takes the trio to Central America, where they meet an uncontacted tribe and learn about people who wish to preserve their own unique way of life in the jungle. They also learn about the dangers facing the rain forests, wildlife and indigenous people from industry and mining.

A reviewer commented on my books, saying: “Contrary to today’s apparent trend of watering down our differences, your stories celebrate those differences, which I believe will better serve your young readers as they become the next wave of world leaders.” I was moved by this comment because the places I have chosen as locales for the future adventures are rich in ancient history and stories and legends that anyone would be proud to call their heritage. These elements should be preserved as cultural wealth; special and unique moments in a people’s history that have meaning for them. By including diversity in children’s literature, an author is able to help broaden cultural understanding and acceptance between young readers and reduce conflicts. It’s a great way to teach kids that there are others who might not have all the advantages they enjoy, and that caring and sharing, and respecting others is part of the process of being a compassionate human being. As an end note, Book 1: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is now available in Japan and I hope young Japanese readers will just love reading about an amazing Egyptian adventure in their own language.

The internet has made the world a smaller place than when I was a kid, sharing information about people from all over the four corners of the earth. And yet we still struggle with the big issues: accepting others, treating those who are different from us with respect, and celebrating those differences. I love to see books like The Search for the Stone of Excalibur that embrace and celebrate different cultures–and tell a rollicking good story to boot!

FionaIngram-794310And now here’s a little more about Fiona Ingram:

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.

While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.

You can follow Fiona on Facebook or Twitter, and check out her blog, too. (She always shares the most interesting animal stories!) And of course, look for her fun and fascinating mystery, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. You’ll learn something new on every page!

Peek-A-Book: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

If your powecobra-smallrs of deduction are good, then you probably have a good idea what today’s Peek-a-Book is all about! Author Fiona Ingram’s first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, takes place in Egypt, and the adventure is packed with fascinating bits about that ancient part of the world. When I was a kid, I thought the pharaohs and pyramids were exciting and even a little scary. What a perfect backdrop for a mystery!

Fiona Ingram was a bookworm kind of kid who loved to make up stories and act them out! Perhaps that’s what led her to study Drama at the University of Natal in South Africa. It’s a sure bet that her theater background helped her develop a great ear for dialogue. Fiona also enjoyed a career in freelance journalism, but her journey to writing a children’s book was a new adventure that’s taken its own unexpected turns. Her book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, has won several awards, including a Finalist in the Children’s Fiction section of the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards. She also went from writing one book to making plans for an entire series! I asked Fiona a few questions about writing a series, and researching projects like The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.

Your characters travel from one exciting destination to another, picking up clues and meeting up with bad guys! What’s involved in research for a writer who chooses an exotic locale like Egypt?

Going to Egypt, or whatever the exotic locale you have chosen. This may sound difficult, but in fact travel is fun and easy, and if the locale is really exotic (and the locals don’t speak English) go on a tour where you’ll be looked after. Tour guides are brilliant at making sure you don’t miss out on all the amazing things their country has to offer. They also have many snippets of information you might not find in the actual guide books, such as old legends and customs. At the same time, you’ll have to put in the extra research later to make sure you get your facts right. The actual visit should be for you to ‘taste’ the atmosphere, the ambiance, and the very different environment—sights, sounds, food, language, traditions, weather … it all counts. Although I was inspired by my trip to Egypt, I absolutely had to do lots of homework when I started writing the book to get my facts straight. I have a few more really interesting and exotic locations lined up for the next few books—I can’t wait to pack!

Your protagonists are two young boys, which makes this a great read for guys! Can you give some insight into how you developed these characters?

I used the real characters of my two nephews as the basis for my fictional characters. Their responses and reactions to the events of our trip also gave me a deeper insight into where my fictional characters would eventually go. They are both very different: the older boy is bold, practical, and something of a ‘know it all.’ He’s great to lead any expedition into Darkest Wherever. The younger boy is more spiritual and imaginative, and made the perfect template for Adam, the hero who turns out to be the bearer of the sacred scarab. In my opinion, it helps to use real life examples (or maybe just aspects of them) when creating characters. It helps to convey a better sense of authenticity.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the first book in a series. Did you know from the outset that you wanted to do a series? Do you think a writer should make that decision from the beginning?

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When I began writing the story I hadn’t developed the back history or mythology behind the series because I’d only thought about writing one story. At the same time I really liked my two young heroes and I had toyed with creating different adventures for them to pursue once The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was finished. But apparently the book had other ideas! About halfway through the project, the adventure suddenly took a quantum leap forward. Because the entire book is based on real facts (check it all … the Shemsu-Hor, the Neteru, and all the gods!), I found myself delving deeper into ancient mythology and seeing the fascinating threads that connect most of the ancient world and various mythologies. Once I’d created the mythology behind the Stone of Fire (again based on a real legend), ideas literally began to pop out of my head. By the time the two-thirds mark was reached, I’d already planned more books to develop my ever-growing theme. The adventure was too big, too all-encompassing to end with the first book. I am not sure if a writer can make that decision alone. Just as the characters come alive during the writing process, I think the story itself will dictate how far it can go. Let your imagination fly while you write and (amazingly) things will take shape.

What should a writer consider when developing a series?

I think the writer should consider the strength of the story. My Chronicles of the Stone series incorporates Seven Stones of Power, which means Justin and Adam have seven ancient artifacts to find, thus seven strongly linked adventures that all lead to a grand final conclusion. The books need each other to make sense of the adventures. That’s one kind of series. On the other hand, a writer can develop a strong cast of characters who share a good theme—let’s say, kid detectives. The kid detectives could solve different mysteries, not necessarily related, but with the strong thread of the characters’ shared experiences as the backbone of the series.

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You can find out more about The Secret of the Sacred Scarab at Fiona Ingram’s website (www.fionaingram.com) or visit the book site.  Or ask Fiona! She’s happy to tackle your questions, so drop back by Finders and Keepers to find the answers to your writing mysteries!